Q: How do new graduates become aware of, or join, graduate programmes, and keep up to date with the latest graduate opportunities in the engineering sector?
• Some of the larger organisations in New Zealand have well-known graduate programmes that candidates can apply to through their career pages.
• Most of the larger companies that offer specific graduate programmes go to universities and other tertiary education providers and exhibit at their career days/evening events.
• If a company is looking for a one-off graduate they will usually advertise the role through job boards, go through a recruitment agency, or use word of mouth.
• There are also a couple of graduate specialist agencies/organisations that connect graduates to roles, such as Randstad Construction, Property & Engineering.
Q: What should graduates do to enhance their chances of securing a place in a graduate programme or graduate position?
• They should do their research, and think specifically about which company they want to work for, rather than applying for every graduate programme out there.
• They should make themselves known to the organisation. They could introduce themselves to recruiters at careers expos or be proactive and call the organisation. With the increasing number of graduates, including those from overseas, they need to stand out and make an impression.
• They should try and gain some work experience whilst studying. If students can apply for a role having had a few months’ relevant work experience, it will definitely put them ahead of the rest.
• They should ensure they are networking in the right places whilst studying. Having connections in the industry they are wanting to work in is definitely a benefit. For example, if they’re an engineering student they should probably maintain some sort of visibility within the Institute of Professional Engineers NZ (IPENZ).
Q: Are changes taking place in the construction market in terms of opportunities for graduate positions, professional development and training?
• As the market tightens up with the skills shortage, more clients are turning to hiring graduates as this gives them the opportunity to grow their talent within. However, this is still an area clients need to be more open to, with some SMEs only just starting to look at this option. It’s a case of immediate need versus future need.
• The current trend of an ageing workforce is also driving companies to consider bringing some new blood into their companies. This brings the dual benefits of diversity and different thought processes.
• Some companies offer a summer internship for new graduates. This can often be unpaid, but gives graduates the opportunity to learn software and basic on-the-job skills. Some of the bigger firms in the architectural industry do this.
Q: Are there any other noteworthy developments or predictions for the construction industry for 2017?
• Predictions for the future are that the talent pool will become even smaller and, therefore, companies are going to have to increasingly consider graduates.
• There are more international graduates in the market and, therefore, companies are going to have to start being more open to hiring international applicants rather than a born-and-bred Kiwi candidate.
• There will be more formal gradute programmes being implemented by SMEs. Currently, it is predominantly the larger organisations that offer these programmes.
• Overall the demand is set to grow, and that spells good news for construction sector graduates of the future.